Education and training: Growing yourself to grow your business

PLAN Australia chief Phil Quin-Conroy says the most successful brokers look for ways to evolve



When the MFAA announced in 2011 that it would require brokers to obtain their Diploma in order to remain members, there was a degree of panic. The nascent licensing regime had set a minimum requirement of a Certificate IV for brokers, and some industry participants felt the MFAA’s decision to up the educational stakes above and beyond what regulation required was a mistake. Nevertheless, the vast majority of brokers obtained their Diplomas, and the MFAA has used its higher barriers to entry as a selling point to consumers. 

Even as the Diploma debate came and went, ongoing education and training have remained key resources for brokers looking to grow their businesses. Not only does the NCCP require ongoing education, PLAN Australia chief executive Phil Quin-Conroy has said the best brokers are proactive about obtaining it.

“First and foremost, there's an ongoing training requirement as part of the licensing regime, but I think the majority of brokers who embrace those opportunities do it not because they have to but because they recognise that we're in a dynamic and fast changing business environment. Staying up with the latest trends and being open-minded to new trends that help them be successful is the reason why the majority of brokers commit to education and training,” Quin-Conroy said.

According to Quin-Conroy, the delivery of education and training opportunities is one of the services that makes PLAN unique among aggregators.

“We see the delivery of training and education as a real differentiator for PLAN Australia based on the impact it can have and the demand we have from brokers. We actively invest in it quite heavily,” he said. “Our model focuses on three areas of impact for brokers: external support, leading technology and delivery of value-add services to stay ahead of the pack. We see the training and education component of our service offering falling into that value add category.”

As the market for aggregators becomes more competitive and brokers demonstrate more market power, brokers expect more services from their aggregators. For PLAN, Quin-Conroy said education and training was a natural value add for the company.

“We choose to focus in on it. It ties in with our objective of delivering premium aggregation services to brokers who are business-oriented, so it's a good fit for us. Our value proposition is helping finance brokers' businesses grow, so it lines up with our value proposition. There's plenty of training and education opportunities made available to brokers from the industry, and we support and encourage those, be we also wanted to supplement those,” Quin-Conroy said.

Leveraging the opportunities
While there may have been backlash over the introduction of the Diploma, when it comes to ongoing education and training, Quin-Conroy said most brokers see the value.

“We find the vast majority of brokers go above and beyond the minimum requirement. When we introduce a new initiative to help brokers think differently around the way the run their business, in the majority of instances it is the most successful brokers who are the first to adopt it,” he said.

Quin-Conroy said successful brokers recognise the need for continued learning, and are always on the lookout for better ways of doing business.

“One of the reasons they're successful is they realise they need to be open-minded to the way they're doing things, and they realise they don't have all the answers. The ones who realise the need to constantly evolve to excel are the ones who are most successful,” he said.

For PLAN’s part, Quin-Conroy said the aggregator looks to deliver its education and training opportunities in formats that best serve its members.

“We deliver a comprehensive program that has a strong emphasis on enabling and encouraging growth, and we have recognised we need to deliver that comprehensive program in a variety of formats,” he said.

On a practical level, this takes the form of the aggregator’s national conference, face-to-face PD days, online tutorials and webinars.

“We’re always looking to leverage technology to deliver training formats in new and innovative ways,” he said.

To this end, the aggregator recently launched its inaugural Commercial & Asset Finance Digital Summit. Featuring a series of 12 live stream webinars across two full days, Quin-Conroy said the inaugural PLAN Australia Digital Summit attracted significant interest from its members.

“PLAN Australia is committed to supporting our brokers to grow through premium aggregation services and market-leading education and training opportunities and this is just another example of our commitment to innovation for the benefit of our brokers,” Plan Australia CEO Phil Quin-Conroy said.

“We are thrilled our very first Digital Summit has been met with such an enthusiastic response from our brokers.”

While PLAN Australia’s traditional PD days are well attended by brokers, Quin-Conroy said digital training initiatives offered brokers another chance to ‘top up’ in areas of interest without spending time and resources on travel or taking a full day out of the office.

“We are seeing record attendance at our PD days and with strong interest in our new Digital Summit it is clear there is a real hunger amongst brokers for business insights and professional development opportunities that they can leverage to grow their businesses,” he said.

“Progress is at the heart of the PLAN Australia business proposition. We will continue to evolve and innovate the way we deliver training services to our members and look forward to bringing more exciting new developments like our Digital Summit to market in the future.”

All of this serves one purpose, Quin-Conroy said: helping brokers run their businesses more successfully.

“We assist with training and education around being the best possible business owners they can be.”

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